A 9 year- old Ohio elementary student had his hot lunch taken away and was given a cheese sandwich because he had a lunch debt of $9.75.  It was his birthday.

In Pennsylvania, letters were sent to parents that owed lunch debt warning them that unpaid lunch debts could lead to their children being placed in foster care.

A Florida student was denied school lunch because her account showed a deficit of 15 cents.  When the child was told she owed the money, she told them she had no money.  The worker reportedly took the tray and tossed the food in the trash in front of the student.

In Alabama, an elementary school cafeteria worker stamped a child’s arm with the message, “I need lunch money.”

A Rhode Island school district told students with lunch debt they will receive a sunflower butter and jelly sandwich instead of a hot meal.

Minnesota students were warned they will not receive caps and gowns unless their meal debt is current.

A New Hampshire cafeteria worker was fired for serving students with outstanding lunch debt.

New Jersey high school students with lunch debt will be barred from attending prom if their debt exceeds $75.  They will also be unable to purchase tickets to school events, class trips or even buying yearbooks.  Elementary students may not be allowed to participate in after school events or go on class trips if they have lunch debts.

Public schools all over the country are struggling with the issue of student lunch debt.  But this method of student shaming should be banned.

The president of the American Federation of Teachers said he believes all students should have a shot at success by not shaming them.

The Universal School Meals Program Act has been introduced into Congress.   The bill would prohibit schools that participate in federal school meal programs from denying meals to students and reimburses districts for any meal debt owed by families.

Currently the federal government prohibits schools from using federal funds for any unpaid meal debt.

Opponents of the legislation contend that when the district has made attempts to collect the money and is not successful, they must pay off the debt using school district funds.  These funds are designed to cover educational costs, not meal debt. 

The USDA has given school districts discretion to develop their own meal charge policies.  Based on the previous stories from around the nation, those policies stink.

 Universal free school meals could be the best option for all.

Yes, I’m aware of how “far left” that sounds.  But if we took a closer look at how money is being wasted in other areas, it’s possible we could find the funds.

The national debt is at $22 trillion and Congress just keeps spending, so why not invest some in school programs?

In order to fund such a program, maybe Congress could take a quick look at a few of their spending choices.

The federal government spent $375,000 in taxpayer dollars observing the dating habits of senior citizens.

They spent $43 million to build a compressed natural gas filling station in Afghanistan only to discover there was no natural gas distribution ability there.

We spent $2.6 million to fund a truck-driver weight loss intervention program.

$28 million was spent on green camouflage Afghan army uniforms only to discover the color stands out against the sand, so they were deemed unwearable.

Studying wild horses in federal pens cost $80 million.

It cost $5 million to examine the drinking habits of college students.

Testing the pigeon’s affinity for gambling cost $1.3 million dollars.

The Somali National Army was given $76 million to pay their soldiers, only to later discover, most of them go AWOL to join terrorists’ groups.

School meals are just as important as textbooks when it comes to learning.  Students can’t perform well if they are hungry.

Teachers say hunger affects student behavior and believe they can expect fewer behavior incidents and better retention rates if students are fed properly.

Shaming students should be banned by all school districts.

 In a perfect world, parents would do their jobs or would make enough money to feed their children without needing assistance, but we don’t live on that planet.

 Whether it is a lack of money or inability to understand the paperwork involved in enrolling in the government lunch program is really irrelevant.

Shame on us if we can’t find a way to feed our children at school.

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